Writing Processes

The discussion so far has concentrated on the product of writing — the academic paper and its constituents — rather than the process — how academics go about

Table 1.1.3 Some rhetorical devices used in academic articles to persuade the reader of the validity of the argument

Jargon: language that can become pretentious and opaque.

Misuse of references: lists of references to support a point, and selective references to support one side of the argument and not the other.

Straw men arguments: to bolster a position.

Vague qualifiers: e.g. 'Most people will agree . ..' - to ensure the reader does or does not, as appropriate.

Quotations: selectively used to support a point with particular emphasis. Anecdotes: used like quotations.

Examples: the most dramatic ones selected from a range.

Exclamation marks and question marks: to speak more directly to, and carry along, the readers.

Omissions: especially in abstracts, of key details such as the numbers of participants, their ages and where the study was carried out.

Overstatements: discussing non-significant findings as though they are statistically significant.

Distortions: selective presentation of findings from previous research and in the current research.

writing. I now want to discuss writing processes in more detail, and differences between writers in this respect.

The research on how writers actually produce texts can be considered in terms of a hierarchy of overlapping processes or levels. At the bottom level, there is the actual process of putting pen to paper or, these days, fingers to keyboard. Next comes a concern with the thinking that leads to text being written or to being keyboarded. And finally, there is discussion of writing in a more social context: how and why people write at university, for example, and how producing a publication is a lengthy business.

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